Posted on
23
Jul 2019

## Why Is GMAT Prep Expensive?

Mike Diamond, head of instruction, and Jaymes Kine, one of the lead instructors are here to talk to you about some of the questions that we have gotten on our social media platforms.

Why in God’s name is preparing for the GMAT soo expensive? Can’t I just you know muscle through this with sheer will, determination, self-prep, and free resources? And for some small portion of the population you totally can, but, by in large, learning to absolutely master the GMAT is like starting from scratch and building a car. You need to at the very least have other people help you make parts, give you schematics, all that, even if you are putting it together yourself. This is not something most people want to do or more importantly have time to do. So why is the cost of GMAT prep soo high?

## The GMAT Is An Investment

You need to take the GMAT so that you can go to business school. You want to go to business school so you can become an executive of some sort, somewhere, right? I mean, most of the people, and listen there are those of you out there that are going to B-school to make the world a better place and that’s absolutely awesome and for anyone, whether you are going for profit or for the love of humanity, if you have got a need, we have a scholarship program.

So somewhere below here you can find a link to our scholarship application. Let’s be clear, the scholarship we are discussing is an Apex scholarship!

## 10 Points on the GMAT is worth \$80 000!

So, when it comes down to it, the GMAT is an investment and doing well on the GMAT has a significant measurable impact on the amount of money that you are going to make throughout your life. And it might be more than you think.

We have actually done some analysis internally and when you compare the salaries coming out of schools, from top schools to very good schools and you adjust for everything else, and just look at admissions chances and financial aid and GMAT, every 10 points on the GMAT is worth.

Yeah. Guess! Every 10-point increment on the GMAT, how much is it worth? In annual income? In net present value. Lifetime! 10 points? 10K? Keep Going! 30K? 50? About 50 thousand Pounds, 80 thousand US Dollars in lifetime earnings. And that sounds sort of ridiculous until you think about …. Wait, that’s every 10 points? Every 10 points? Well think about it, if you get a 720 and get into Stanford versus a 620, do a great school like, Fox, your lifetime earnings for those 100 points, the difference is going to be more than 800 000 dollars. That’s a lot of dollars!

## The Apex Instructor Difference

And so it’s an investment, but from the other side, for us, for what we do. We love what we do! And we are not really in it for the money. I think every instructor here started out helping friends, helping family, helping friends of friends, and at some point sort of rolled in and said, well this is something that I enjoy. This is really fun! And it can help me have a fulfilling career.

## Why is GMAT Prep so expensive?

But there is opportunity cost, for you Economics majors out there. Ooh, talking to you! Why is GMAT preparation soo expensive?

Well if you go to a test prep factory and they hire someone who scored a 680 or a 700, just got out of school, doesn’t have teaching experience, they are not paying them very much, they’re actually probably paying them less than they are worth because that’s how big corporations work. Not to get too political. But, you know, they are getting paid \$20/hour.

That’s why earlier on in my career I didn’t know this existed. Being a real tutor. It’s also why many of them don’t do it full time. I mean you can see when you go on any of those other websites, and you look for courses available by this specific teacher, they’ve got like 1 or 2 nights a week maybe. Because they are moonlight, doing something else to pay the bills. Still, a lot of excellent teachers, but, we don’t want them, because they’re doing something else and it’s just a financial thing for them.

That’s actually one of the things that I’ve been happiest with. Going from just teaching on the side and moonlighting and doing that fulltime because I didn’t like my other job and I always liked the few hours a week I was teaching and now I like all the hours that I am teaching.

## Apex instructors have scored 770+ on the GMAT

For a GMAT score of, well we all have 770’s and above, we can go to top business schools and work at, I used to be at a hedge fund. Oh, we fancy! We can go do all sorts of stuff. We totally fancy!

So hiring a GMAT tutor is like hiring a professional whether it is an attorney, an accountant, a psychiatrist. Looking for that budget doctor? Yeah, exactly! You wouldn’t get your knee operated on by someone who was like “I can do it a little cheaper but I went to a worse medical school”.  Right, Zoology is medicine, in a way! I’ve done plenty giraffe knee replacements! That’s actually a pretty big deal!

If you enjoyed this video about the cost of GMAT prep, watch our GMAT Confidence video.

Posted on
08
Jul 2019

## GMAT Confidence

Mike Diamond, Head of instruction, and Jaymes Kine one of the lead instructors here are going to talk about some of the questions that we’ve gotten on our social media platforms.

We asked for you guys to give us some questions you have asked the questions and I guess kind of talked ourselves into a corner because now we have to answer them. Do you have the answers? I have the answer guide!

## GMAT Prep Materials

What materials to use? But I want to talk especially about the quality materials out there. There’s a wide variety of materials and a wide variety of quality, but even the good materials in terms of the problems often do a great disservice to our clients by saying this is how you do it.

You look in the back and you see this especially, it’s more apparent with the quantitative. Here’s all the algebra you need to do, and so many times it’s not about the answer, it’s about thinking about other solution paths and getting around the answer. Yeah, and this is actually something that happens a lot, it’s mainly one of the major pitfalls for self-prep.

When you’re studying on your own we read through the official guide or whatever books you may have. By the way, we recommend always getting the official guide, other books to supplement are great, but at least the official guide.

We have our own materials that we would recommend obviously, but let’s go to the official guide on the answers there. When people are self-prepping they will go through the official guide, then they’ll be reading the official answers which they start with here’s the algebra problem and work you all the way through every algebraic step.

## GMAT Confidence

I don’t know if you guys can tell we haven’t rehearsed and this is actually a GMAT moment. Yeah, we maybe should have rehearsed, you know failing to plan is planning to fail I think is what we say. Yes and no though, but we have all the answers.

We don’t need to go over the answers in advance we don’t need a script because we live and breathe the GMAT, this is all we do. And in that way this is a strong parallel for the GMAT. When you’re sitting the exam you don’t need to know the answers in advance ABCD whatever. If you have the tools and the knowledge, the experience, the expertise, then the answers are going to flow. And all that I think adds up to GMAT confidence to know you can go into that test and you can take it right.

Now we may be overconfident here but it’s something we’re working on. But being confident when you get to the test is definitely key. And it’s often a characteristic of really high achieving test takers. To be sure none of our instructors went to the test saying, “Oh, I’m nervous I’m not going to do well,” and when we take follow-up tests from time to time that’s not a question.

That’s characteristic of just about everyone I’ve met, clients, instructors, whatever that have scored above that 720/730 mark.

I think irrational confidence is probably my best characteristic as a test taker. That’s your best characteristic overall! Oh, thanks man!

If you enjoyed this video, watch Quant Versus Verbal.

Posted on
06
Jul 2019

## Quant Versus Verbal

It’s time for quant versus verbal, one of the most common questions we get. Where should I start?

## Quant

It won’t surprise our lovely viewers that it all depends on the person, but let’s talk in some generalizations. One thing you might be surprised by, maybe not so surprised to learn, is that a distinct majority of the people we work with come to us for quantitative help versus verbal help.

At least that’s what they state upfront. Many of them end up only getting quant anyhow but a lot of people state that they only need quant and then they end up needing verbal help as well. Once your quant outstrips your verbal you want to bring them up to parity because that’s highly rewarded by the scoring algorithm.

We talk, we read, we write, we live, we’re immersed in a world of language, a verbal world. Where even math professors only math a few hours a day. Okay yeah, there is a verb – to math! This is not a GMAT word but it’s an Apex word because we math frequently. Yes!

## Fluency

So the issue there is fluency. If you’re already fluent in English, all the lessons you need to learn are much more easily attainable. Whereas with quantitative concepts even ones you think you know, often there’s more context. So you need a longer time period and more contact density with them in order to absorb all the stuff you need to then be flexible with them the same way you’re likely already flexible with the English language.

## Verbal

A big part of that is that the verbal section is the verbal section but the math section is math in English. They’re not just equations. They’re not just giving you specific mathematics problems per se. They are giving you math problems wrapped up in words.

That goes both ways, there are quantitative problems particularly on the critical reasoning and a lot of times these aren’t: here are some numbers; figure it out. Rather, the cost-of-living index is growing more quickly than inflation, more than pensions or something like that. Where you have some sort of abstract inequality buried in a property – they require mathematical reasoning.

That’s how it goes, so anyway there’s a lot of overlap on the GMAT but especially on the quantitative side, a lot of the difficulty is puzzling out what you need to answer, not doing the equation but you’re saying: what that hell is this asking me for?

## Non-Native English Speakers

This is something else that we feel like a lot of the other test prep factories don’t really do a good enough job in my opinion. Emphasizing what many of you may be thinking right now which is verbal help and mathematical help with verbal for non-native English speakers. There are plenty of students who come to us who are actually very good mathematicians as it were and it’s the English that they need a little bit of help with. Not as it pertains to the verbal section but actually it’s the English on the quant section that’s difficult.

Absolutely, there’s vocabulary, there’s context, but what’s really important here is that native speakers and non-native speakers pick up language differently. Even the way you learned English if you’re a non-native speaker affects how we approach working with you on the verbal. So if you’re a non-English speaker don’t be too concerned that that’s a disadvantage.

Something I’d like to point out to my students quite often is that the GMAT is actually created specifically for native English speakers and a lot of the test itself is meant to trick native English speakers. So coming at it actually from a non-native speaking background can actually help you kind of skip over all of the little traps that are set up for native speakers. So don’t despair, it’s not that you’re at a distinct disadvantage, you just have some different kind of work to do to prepare.

If you enjoyed this video, watch GMAT Confidence.

Posted on
12
Feb 2019

## If you’re doing math on the GMAT, watch this.

I want to discuss one of the core tenents of Apex’s quantitative philosophy on the GMAT. “If you’re doing math, you’re doing something wrong.” Meaning, if you find yourself doing math, that’s a signal from the exam that you’re using a sub-optimal solution path. By math I don’t mean any calculation whatsoever, but any calculations that aren’t reasonable – that don’t come out easily, neatly, and cleanly, once you’re well practiced with mental math. So it’s not that we’ll never do a calculation, but every calculation we do should be deliberate and smooth.

## The Most Overused Solution Path

Let’s go a little deeper into this because it’s a really important concept. Many, many people preparing for the GMAT spend way too much time worrying about the math, being freaked out about the math, and on the exam doing the math. The applied mathematical solution path is the most overused solution path on the quantitative side of the GMAT. Particularity among engineers, and with people who do a lot of self-prepping. They look to the back of the book or look to previous experience as students and get caught up in the idea that their answer needs to be precise. This gets in the way of using our estimation solution path or other higher solution paths, which can get us to the correct answer much more quickly.

## The GMAT isn’t Testing Your Math Skills

How do we know that math is not what the GMAT wants us to do? It’s quite simple. If the GMAT was the referendum on how well you can do mental math, then the scores would reflect your ability to do so. MBA programs at top business schools would be filled with people with extraordinary, almost savant-like mental math abilities. We know this isn’t the case.

Actually, as we improve on our mental math, we get diminishing returns with it. So we see a lot of clients getting up to the 70th, 80th, or 90th percent level even, on the quantitative side of things. Then, all of a sudden they plateau; they can’t get any higher. The reason is they are so focused on the math. They are missing the bigger logical reasoning picture or the structure of quantitative problems that doesn’t rely on doing math that allows both quick and accurate solutions.

## Key Things to Avoid

While math has its place, we want to be sure that we’re not putting it on a pedestal. And that when we’re performing computations, we’re doing so with great deliberation, intentionality, and that we have a good reason for doing any computation we’re doing. If you find yourself diving into the equation or doing a lot of processing, stop. Say “Wait a minute, there must be a better way to do this.”

Another option is that sometimes you make a basic error early on and that leads to ugly numbers and math. But you should never, never, never be multiplying decimals out to the fourth decimal. That sort of math is the true trigger, the true signal, that there’s a better way to solve the problem. When you’re self-prepping, this is what you want to look for.

So by the time you get to the exam, you’re not catching yourself doing math, but you’ve already incorporated it into your process, the fact that math shouldn’t be your default.

So, remember, guys, if you’re doing math, you’re doing something wrong and you can take this one to the bank.

Posted on
12
Feb 2019

## Six Things That GMAT Preppers Get Wrong

I’m Mike Diamond Head Instructor for Apex GMAT, here to talk about the top six things GMAT preppers get wrong.

## 1. Thinking That a Correct Answer Means You’re Done With the Problem

When you arrive at a correct answer, that should mark the beginning of your preparation, not the end of it. There are almost always better solution paths that are more time-efficient. They work better with the way your brain engages the problem, or they will add understanding either to the content or more importantly to the underlying structure of the examination.

So, when you arrive at a correct answer look for alternative solution paths, and for shortcuts, give yourself the latitude to explore. Moreover, try to identify what permitted you to get the problem correct in the first place. A lot of times, people focus much more on the problems they get wrong; on what they’re doing wrong than on what they’re doing right. And, what you’re doing right can often inform those problems where you are struggling. So, remember, once you arrive at the correct answer, that’s your starting point.

## 2. Overusing Practice Tests

Practice exams are a crucial part of GMAT preparation, but they’re often misused and overused. Most people use a practice exam to see how they’re doing, but being focused on your score is absolutely the wrong way to approach the GMAT.

Rather, you want to be focused on your process and if your process is tight, if your process is correct. Then, the score is going to take care of itself. Practice tests are best used for a number of reasons, none of which have to do with your score.

They can be used to calibrate your timing decisions. They can be used to identify weak points in your conceptual understanding. Finally, they can be used to identify where you DSM, default solving mechanism, back into old time consuming and unconstructive solution pathways. So, the next time you have an urge to do a test remember that this is going to rob you of two to three hours of valuable prep time. When you’re doing a practice test, you’re not learning, you’re doing.

I know it’s counter-intuitive, you want that 700+ score. It’s all you think about; it haunts your dreams. And yet caring about your score is the quickest way to a test anxiety problem and it’s actually entirely unconstructive. Rather, you need to focus entirely on your process and let the score handle itself.

Imagine you’re running a race and you’re running as fast as you can. Whether you’re a super fit marathon runner or a couch potato, you can only run as fast as you can. And the time on that race is going to reflect that. So don’t sweat the score, sweat your fitness! Understand what things you can do to improve your GMAT fitness and the score will take care of itself.

## 4. Studying Under a Time Constraint

Time trials are really important as you mature in your GMAT progress. But at the start, you want to focus on the mastery of skills in an un-timed environment. Only once you’ve achieved mastery try to do them ever more quickly.

By focusing on the time before you have the underlying process conquered you end up rushing yourself in a way that exacerbates your mistakes rather than allows you to correct them. So, as you’re prepping, focus on total mastery and understanding first and then begin putting them under time pressure.

## 5. Low-yield Self-prep

Most people spend entirely too much time preparing for the GMAT. They do so because they’re not getting enough out of their prep time.

Does this sound familiar? Okay, I’m going to do a group of 10 questions, maybe on a timer for 20 minutes. Afterwards I’m going to look in the back of the book. When I get the problem right I’m going to say, “yeah, I never have to deal with this problem again.” When I get it wrong in going to go a little bit further and normally I’m going to find something that I knew but I sort of forgot. I’ll say, “You know what I won’t forget that, I’m going to get that right next time.”

But it doesn’t happen that way, does it? That’s a very low-yielding strategy. Instead, you need to become responsible and accountable for your learning and Apex shows you the way to do so by not just being reactive to problems but proactively creating problems of your own.

## 6. Doing the Math

We have a saying around here and you may have heard it on some of our materials or online videos. If you’re doing math, then you’re doing something wrong. Most of the GMAT quantitative section requires little to no processing and if you’re scribbling tons of stuff on paper, it means you’re missing the bigger picture. So, remember, if you’re doing math there’s always a better way!

Enjoyed “Six things that GMAT preppers get wrong?”, find more videos here.